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Trump approved strikes on Iran but cancelled them at the last minute

Trump is reported to have authorized strikes on Iran before abruptly withdrawing approval [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 June, 2019

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An anonymous US official says that Trump approved limited strikes on Iran in retaliation for the shooting down of a US drone but cancelled them at the last minute.

A US official says the military made preparations Thursday night for limited strikes on Iran in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Gulf of Oman, but approval was abruptly withdrawn before the attacks were launched.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, says the targets would have included radars and missile batteries.

The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had approved the strikes, but then called them off. The newspaper cited anonymous senior administration officials.

The White House on Thursday night declined requests for information about whether Trump changed his mind.

Trump spent most of Thursday discussing Iran strategy with top national security advisers and congressional leaders. Asked earlier in the day about a U.S. response to the attack, he said, "You'll soon find out."

Iran says that the downed drone was flying over its territorial waters but the US Department of Defence says that it was 34 kilometres away from the Iranian coast when it was downed.

Trump said that Iran had “made a big mistake” by shooting down the drone but later said he believed the downing to have been accidental.

Tensions have been mounting between the US and Iran ever since last May, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 deal regarding Iran’s nuclear programme and tightened sanctions against the country.

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